By Zach DeMeyer Posted March 18, 2019
Red Hat ® recently decided to end distribution of OpenLDAP™, sending many IT organizations into a tailspin. Effectively, the images for Linux now are defaulting to Red Hat’s own directory service solutions, 389 Directory and Directory Server, rather than the long-renowned OpenLDAP solution. As Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models continue to gain popularity, many are wondering if there is a Red Hat Directory Server “as-a-Service” solution.
What is Red Hat?
Before we dive into their Directory Server solution, let’s first understand Red Hat themselves. Red Hat is an enterprise software company which uses an open-source development model. This means that Red Hat produces software which has its code publically available, in addition to promoting and leveraging existing open-source projects. Red Hat’s goal is to foster open community-driven software. It is curious, then, that they dropped OpenLDAP, one of the longest running open-source projects in IT.
Why Drop OpenLDAP?
Why has Red Hat made this move after so many years of supporting OpenLDAP? It appears that the company is motivated by wanting to capture more customers for their own internal platforms, rather than continuing to support the widely popular OpenLDAP. Admins can still download and leverage the open-source LDAP instance from elsewhere, but will have to implement it without support from Red Hat. Or, they can implement an OpenLDAP alternative or Red Hat Directory Server replacement.
Red Hat OpenLDAP Alternatives
When it comes to OpenLDAP alternatives from Red Hat, there is a “free” option, 389 Directory Server, and a “paid” version, Red Hat Directory Server. Technically, both options are free; their source code can be downloaded and implemented for no cost. Red Hat mainly makes their money by offering support for their Directory Server on a subscription basis.
While it’s certainly an intriguing business model, the shift to the cloud is prompting a swell in offerings of SaaS-delivered resources. Many of today’s enterprises are utilizing these services, favoring slight increases in monetary cost for hosted cloud software. As organizations adopt more modern, cloud-forward solutions, however, some admins are wondering if there is an option akin to a Red Hat Directory Server as-a-Service.
Red Hat Directory Server as-a-Service?
SaaS-delivered resources share several key characteristics. First and foremost, they are leverageable directly from the cloud, foregoing the need for on-prem hardware. As such, they also feature hosted management, taking the onus of implementing software from the source code off the backs of IT admins. Finally, the SaaS development model promotes an agile process of constantly releasing updates and improvements to the product.
Red Hat Directory Server is an open-source, manually configured, on-prem instance. So, for those interested in looking for a Red Hat Directory Server “as-a-Service” solution, the truth is that they will need to find a third party to handle that. While there are some Red Hat-focused cloud service providers, the challenge for IT admins quickly becomes what does a SaaS directory server implementation really look like?
A SaaS Directory Service
Many identity management software solutions, such as Red Hat Directory Server and even Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD), are provided as a managed service, rather than a SaaS offering. That means that the provider (e.g. AWS® for Microsoft AD, for example) will manage the underlying hardware and make sure that the software is patched. You are still responsible to configure, manage, and monitor the directory service. The result is that while you have off-loaded some of the work, the most difficult functions are often still the responsibility of the IT admin or DevOps engineer.
Luckily, there is a new generation of cloud identity management solution called Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS) that is completely shifting the directory service to be delivered from the cloud. This means that end users’ identities can be managed regardless of where they are working or what resources they are using. In essence, DaaS is the “as-a-Service” alternative to Red Hat Directory Server or even 389 Directory, with the added benefits of identity management and access control with flexible administration.
The Directory-as-a-Service, offered from JumpCloud®, is available completely free for ten users, forever. Beyond that, it is offered at a reasonable pricing model with discounted rates for educational institutions, non-profits, and JumpCloud Partners. You can try the DaaS product today, or you can also schedule a demo to see the product in action.